Yeley from Gibbs to hall of fame in Toyota
Toyota today makes official what everyone already knew: Joe Gibbs Racing will run Toyotas in NASCAR Nextel Cup competition next season.
But there are further signs that Toyota is regrouping for the next season of NASCAR Nextel Cup competition, as well. J. J. Yeley, recently non-renewed at Gibbs Racing, will be driving for Hall of Fame Racing next season – and that he’ll be in a Toyota. He replaces Tony Raines.
Yeley, who has been a protégé of Gibbs driver Tony Stewart, was pushed out of the Gibbs team to make way for Kyle Busch, after Busch had been released by Hendrick Racing to make room for Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Apparently, however, Toyota desired to have Yeley’s services, even if not at Gibbs. The move was an easy one, because Hall of Fame Racing gets its engines, chassis, and technical support from Gibbs.
Hall of Fame Racing gets its name from two of its original owners: football Hall of Fame members Troy Aikman and Roger Staubach. However, majority ownership of the team was sold last week to Jeff Moorad and Tom Garfinkel, the chief executive officer and chief operating officer, respectively, of the Arizona Diamondbacks baseball team.
In the view of some NASCAR observers, Toyota scored a major victory in landing the Gibbs team for the next season. All of Toyota’s current teams, with the exception of Bill Davis Racing, were start ups and are in their first year of competition. Gibbs, on the other hand, is an established team which has all of the necessary personnel in place to produce wins. Hence, it is argued that Toyota’s prospects for next year are brighter with the addition of Gibbs.
However, Chevrolet has dominated Nextel Cup competition this year. Though Toyota’s performance has been abysmal, Dodge has also done poorly and Ford has been a consistent also-ran, as well. The Gibbs team will obviously have a great deal of knowledge about what worked for them with Chevrolets but, absent significant changes in the rules, there is no special reason to believe that adding the Gibbs organization will instantly provide success.
There will also be the question of whether the Gibbs team will be expected to share information with other Toyota teams, such as Michael Waltrip Racing. Toyota has always run a very centralized race operation and it is abundantly clear that its current teams have fallen behind in car development. Presumably, between now and next year’s Daytona 500 much of the engineering resources Toyota has available to Toyota Motorsports will be concentrated on assisting the Gibbs team. Whether any of the Gibbs’ expertise will flow back to Toyota and from them to their current teams is an open question.